Home Affairs Committee Press Release

Session 2007-08, 21 July 2008

Announcement of New Inquiry


Announcement of New Inquiry

Wheel Clamping

The Home Affairs Committee has today launched a new inquiry into ‘Wheel clamping on private land’.

Wheel clamping on public land comes under the remit of the Department for Transport, and the powers to and limitations on such clamping is set out in legislation, whereas clamping on private land (which is a matter for the Home Office) is comparatively unregulated. Parking on private land without permission is trespass but a landowner who wishes to clamp any vehicles parked without permission must display a notice stating that he intends to do so. It is estimated that the private clamping industry is worth somewhere in the region of £240 million per annum, with around 350 firms operating across England and Wales.

Since May 2005 all private clamping companies have had to obtain a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA) to clamp cars parked illegally on private land. The SIA will investigate complaints about wheel clampers, but can investigate breaches only of the licensing conditions, and does not therefore regulate the size of the release fee (about which there are more complaints than any other aspect of the system). Charges can range from around £50 to over £500 for the removal of clamps and towing away fees.

The Committee will consider issues such as:

  • The incidence of wheel clamping on private land and the degree to which unreasonable penalties are imposed on motorists parking on private land;
  • the scale of the problem of unlicensed clampers;
  • sanctions for licensed clampers who behave unreasonably; and
  • whether more detailed regulation and/or specific legislation is needed to limit the activities of private clampers.

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“Wheel clamping on private land has been a major problem for some years. The Government's view is that owners of land must be able to take action against those who park without permission and that wheel clamping may be an effective way of dealing with such situations, but that any action must be carried out in a reasonable manner.

“However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence - hearses containing coffins being immobilised; postmen being clamped while delivering parcels; extremely high charges for the release of vehicles - indicating that motorists are in some cases being unfairly penalised. We want to examine whether a better balance between the interests of motorists and those of private landowners can be achieved.” 

The Committee is seeking written submissions of no more than 2,500 words from interested parties. Organisations and individuals interested in making written submissions are invited to do so by Friday 17 October. Further advice on making a submission can be found below. 

The Committee does not intend to hold any oral evidence sessions in connection with this inquiry.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Written evidence should if possible be in Word or rich text format-not PDF format-and sent by e-mail to [email protected] The use of colour and expensive-to-print material, e.g. photographs, should be avoided. The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions must address the terms of reference. They should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/witness.cfm.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere, though previously published work can be referred to in a submission and submitted as supplementary material. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.

Please bear in mind that the Committee is not able to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter or e-mail. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.